Could you enlighten me concerning what the Apostle Paul said “to be anxious for nothing but let your request be made know to God and the Peace of God that passeth all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” And that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. It seems to me that as Paul describes the sufferings of the present time, the sufferings of Christ, and so forth that it is difficult for me to make any sense of how God is working in the details of our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. I hope that you can give me a better understanding how God works in the details of our lives; of which I know that Godliness is a big issue.
Also, the Apostle Paul said: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I want to share with you that there have been times in the past when I did as Paul exhorted and at the same time said to myself: “Paul, you must be crazy!” How can you give thanks when everything is going wrong and things that happen seem so senseless?
In order for us to fully understand, appreciate, and operate upon such issues as Philippians 4:5-6; Ephesians 3:20; and I Thessalonians 5:18; it is necessary that we first of all have operating within us some specific fundamental and foundational doctrines. For though, for example, Philippians 4:5-6 deals with the issue of prayer, it does not deal with prayer on a foundational level. The Philippian saints were not new believers, nor “babes in Christ,” nor carnal saints, nor anything else associated with being young and inexperienced in their edification. Rather they were well established, maturing, and perfecting, saints; just as Paul testifies to in the epistle. Hence when he brings up the issue of prayer with them in chapter 4, he does so knowing that they know full well what prayer is; that they have been enjoying and appreciating the benefits of prayer in their own lives for a long time already; and that they will know exactly what he is talking about when he says what he does to them in verses 5-6, along with why he says it to them.
Likewise is this so with the Ephesians and with the Thessalonian saints. What Paul says to them in Ephesians 3:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18 respectively, he says to saints who are also mature; who, for example, already know about and understand and appreciate the issue of God’s power operating within us and its capabilities; who, for example, already understand, appreciate, and have operating within them the kind of optimistic outlook on life that a Christian ought to have which would make it so that he can “give thanks” in “every thing.” Hence when Paul says the kind of things he says in Ephesians 3:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18, he is saying things to them that are fitting to their level of edification. Things they can understand and appreciate the sense of, and can properly respond to by intelligently doing what he says, in view of what they have been taught and have come to know.
Now if we do not understand and appreciate what they already knew, then it is naturally going to be difficult for us to understand, appreciate, and do what is contained in their epistles. For once again what is contained in their epistles is designed for saints who are at the same level in their edification as were the Philippians, Ephesians, and the Thessalonians.
I say this once again to underscore that it is necessary for us to have some fundamental doctrines effectually working and operating within us before the issues in these non-fundamental passages will be properly understood by us and able to be fully operating in us as well.
Now the particular fundamental doctrines I am talking about are the ones that God sets before us and teaches us immediately after telling us that we have received “the adoption of sons.” In other words the doctrines of Romans 8:16-39. For it is through these fundamental doctrines that God provides for us to be able to respond as He does to any and all of “the sufferings of this present time” that we may encounter. And God does not respond to them by becoming full of worry and distress and despondency. He does not respond to them by wondering why in the world they are happening, and wringing His hands over what He sees going on. Rather He responds to them with a full and clear understanding for why they are happening, and for what He is doing while they are allowed to continue on.
And in view of this He responds to them with patience and endurance, and not worry, distress, dejection, and/or depression. And by what He teaches us to understand. He provides us with the ability to respond in the exact same way.
It is also through these fundamental doctrines that God provides for us to understand and appreciate the value and benefits of prayer in our daily lives, so that we do benefit from it as He has designed for us to; and so, for example, to be able to intelligently do what the Philippians are exhorted to do in Philippians 4:5-6, and thereby benefit from “the peace of God” that it talks about when the tendency would be for us to be “careful,” or anxious, or distraught.
And it is through these fundamental doctrines that God provides us with ability to have the same godly outlook on our sonship lives that He Himself has for them, so that we don’t have to be pessimistic, or wondering how in the world anything can work out to God’s glory in our lives in view of what we go through. For the truth of the matter is that God is not pessimistic about our sonship lives. He is not a defeatist regarding us, or about what goes on in this world, or what happens to us. He is not befuddled in his mind trying to figure out how we can glorify Him in view of all that goes on around us. Instead He has specifically provided for us to be able to do this through His word to us, (which He has specifically composed and specifically written with this dispensation in view); and for us thereby to be able to honor and glorify Him no matter what comes our way; even when what comes our way is the worst that the world and the Satanic policy of evil have to offer. In other words, even when ‘everything is going wrong and things that happen seem so senseless’ These fundamental issues were understood and appreciated by the Ephesians, Philippians, and Thessalonians
Therefore, for example, when Paul wrote to the Ephesians he wrote to them as ones who knew the capabilities of the excellency of the power of God’s word operating within them, and as ones who had been benefiting from it already.
So that even though as Paul wrote to them they had come to the point in which they were facing their stiffest opposition yet; and even though it might seem humanly impossible for what Paul prayed for regarding them to actually be accomplished within them; they knew that God was able to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” They knew, therefore, that the power of the effectual working of God’s word that was then being taught to them in their epistle was able to accomplish in them the very things that Paul prayed for regarding them.
Likewise also the Philippian saints knew the peace producing ministry of prayer, having benefited from it numerous times up until now. Hence even though they too were now facing their greatest opposition, with its terror and the like, Paul knew that prayer’s peace producing ministry was fully able to handle their situation. And so he exhorts them to avail themselves of it, and not to forsake it in their distress.
Likewise the Thessalonians knew full well that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” They had Romans 8:28-39 effectually working within them. Hence they knew that they could respond to whatever came their way in a manner that was profitable unto them fulfilling that purpose unto which they had been called as members of God’s “new creature,” the church the body of Christ in this present dispensation of God’s grace. Wherefore Paul accordingly exhorted them to “in every thing give thanks.”
Now to be perfectly frank, I’m not able to teach the doctrines of Romans 8:16-39 in this one response. But in view of what you have asked, you need to know that it is the fundamental and foundational doctrines that are specifically taught to us in that passage that provide for us to be able to intelligently do the very things that the Ephesians, Philippians, and Thessalonians were exhorted to do.
You are correct when you say that you know “that Godliness is a big issue” in this. For indeed it is. In fact it is not only ‘a big issue,’ it is THE issue. And therefore you need to make sure that you have the fundamental Godliness teachings of Romans 8:16-39 effectually working within you. For when we have the Godly perspective on our sonship lives that Romans 8:16ff provides for us to have, along with the Godly outlook and prospect on the details of our lives in view of what God has purposed to accomplish with them; then instead of having a pessimistic or wondering or doubtful outlook on life, or a pessimistic type response to any of the details of it, we are able to have the same optimistic and upbeat outlook on our life as God Himself has. And all of this is what makes it so that we can ‘make sense out of how God is working in the details of our lives,’ and can “in every thing give thanks,” even when from the purely human perspective it may be that ‘everything seems to be going wrong.’
In a number of recent Enjoy The Bible Quarterly articles I have briefly set forth my understanding of the basics of these doctrines in Romans 8:16-39, with the next issue briefly looking at the effectual working of verses 28-39 in our lives. As you give consideration to the effectual working of these fundamental sonship doctrines in your life, you might find the articles helpful.
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